Box Office Hot as Smaug Beats Anchorman; Frozen Shines
By John Hamann
December 22, 2013
The original opened to $28.4 million against the second weekend of Spider-Man 2 ($45.2 million), at a time when the very leggy Notebook was in its third weekend (with a drop of 12%), and Fahrenheit 9/11 was peaking in its third weekend with $11 million. To be able to even open over a weekend like that is a testament to the brand, so greenlighting a sequel to the $26 million original should have been a no brainer, and one has to wonder why it took so long to get this one going. The budget on The Legend Continues is $50 million, so there’s more at stake this time around, but with a five-day debut like this, any concern that Paramount had is gone. The Christmas season turns even small openers into hits, like Jack Reacher last year. The Tom Cruise flick was able to turn a $15 million debut into $80 million, which means it earned five times its opening weekend gross. Should Anchorman 2 do the same, it will easily be a $100 million film, and could approach $150 million. Working against it is a B Cinemascore, but Jack Reacher wasn’t far off that mark with an A-. Come New Year’s Day, I think Paramount is going to be thrilled with the success of Ron Burgundy and his news team.
Finishing third this weekend is Frozen, the Disney Animated feature that had an absolutely stellar fourth weekend. After earning $22.6 million last weekend (dropping only 29%), Frozen had another slight drop, pulling in an awesome $19.2 million, which was a decline of only 15%. All of a sudden, it looks like this Disney product is going to approach $300 million before all is said and done, which really reflects Pixar numbers, not Disney numbers, unless you are looking at Disney numbers from decades ago, like The Lion King ($312 million). Frozen should cross the $200 million mark on Monday or Tuesday, and then sail through the next 10 days unimpeded. Walking With Dinosaurs is turning into a flop, so there is going to be little to no competition moving forward. So far, Frozen has amassed $191.6 million stateside, and has another $150 million in overseas business.
Fourth is American Hustle, the Christian Bale/Jennifer Lawrence/Bradley Cooper/Amy Adams throwback that is gunning for Oscar. Its Oscar chances weren’t hurt by the box office this weekend – despite the ranking – as the David O. Russell flick earned a powerful $19.1 million from 2,507 venues. It had a strong venue average of $7,619, and is another film that’s going to play very well over Christmas, if it can survive the onslaught of competition coming, especially The Wolf of Wall Street. The opening is the biggest ever for the esteemed director, and Sony is in a position to do very well with this it as the film cost only $40 million to make. With seven Golden Globe nominations already, American Hustle puts itself in position for a long and glorious run. Combined with its weekend in limited release, American Hustle has earned $20.2 million so far.
Fifth is Saving Mr. Banks, as the Disney newcomer may be getting buried under a lot of Oscar competition, as well as its own Frozen. The Tom Hanks/Emma Thompson flick earned $9.3 million this weekend, which from 2,110 venues isn’t completely horrid, but Disney had to be hoping for more. This is a word-of-mouth kind of film, though, and it is Christmas, so with its A Cinemascore and 81% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes, it could play strongly throughout the season. It is a tough piece to market, as it could be considered a biopic or a family friendly drama, two types of films people don’t normally rush out to see. The debut is remarkably similar to Tom Hanks’ last Christmas effort, Charlie Wilson’s War. That film opened to $9.2 million on December 21, 2007, and still went on to find $66.7 million throughout its run. That’s an open-to-total multiplier of 7.3, and I bet this multiplier is even better.